Heafner, three-time NCSU golf All-America, dies at 58

calexander@newsobserver.comSeptember 26, 2012 

Vance Heafner, who played on the PGA Tour and later was director of golf at Cary's Prestonwood Country Club, has died. He was 58.

The cause of death was not known late Wednesday night, although it's believed he may have suffered a heart attack.

Heafner, who was born in Charlotte, was a three-time All-American at N.C. State before beginning his professional career in 1978. He played 267 events on the PGA Tour from 1978 to 1999, winning the 1981 Walt Disney World National Team Championship with Mike Holland.

Heafner tied for 11th in the 1981 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, his best finish in a major championship. He had five top-10 finishes in 1981 and was 22nd on the PGA Tour money list that year, a career best.

Heafner's father, the late Clayton Heafner, also was a touring pro who twice was the runnerup in the U.S. Open.

Heafner had been in poor health in recent years after suffering a serious fall that prevented him from playing golf. But he appeared to be recovering the past few months, friends said.

“He helped us with some of our golf camps this summer and seemed like the old Vance,” N.C. State golf coach Richard Sykes said Wednesday. “He had been through some tough times and put his body through a lot, but he was playing golf and telling stories. It looked like he was recuperating.”

Chip Watson,  general manager and director of golf at Lonnie Poole Golf Course, said Heafner had been living and working the past few months at Wildwood Green Golf Club.

"He had been hitting some balls, playing some golf, giving a few lessons at Wildwood," Watson said. "He was still recovering from his fall but it seemed like he had turned the corner. It's really sad."

Heafner turned 50 in August 2004 and hoped to play a number of Champions Tour events against his old friends from the PGA Tour. Injuries ended those plans, however, and his best finish was a tie for 34th in the 2006 SAS Championship at Prestonwood.

Heafner was the 1974 ACC champion and the first golf All-American at N.C. State. He won the N.C. Amateur and the Carolinas Open, and was a member of the 1977 U.S. Walker Cup team.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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